Chapter 11: A Long Awaited Reunion. Alexis has Some Thoughts.
Steve grumbled a bit as he entered the next room. Despite all his hopes, it seemed that rapidly quick healing was his only special ability. No telekinesis or pyrokenesis or any of the sort.
It was still a pleasant surprise that he had such fast healing ability, and he was far from disappointed, he'd just thought he might have something…more.
For the longest time, he'd been wandering around testing his limits while looking for more firepower. He'd found a couple of clips for a 9mm, for all the good that did him without a gun. Still, he'd hung onto them just in case.
The next room Steve entered looked almost like a workshop and was filled with all kinds of tools from screwdrivers to saws. A bright, shiny ax with a rather handsome wooden handle hung from two strategically placed nails on the wall.
Without a moment's hesitation, Steve ditched the pipe for the ax. Now he had a slightly better weapon should he run into trouble.
For a brief instance, an image of Alexis flashed in his mind.
He turned back for the way he'd come, quickly pushing such thoughts aside. She'd chosen her path, now she was no longer his concern.
Still, the memory embittered him.
Steve was just about to step out into yet another corridor when he thought he heard someone's voice.
He froze, waiting for it to resound.
Now he could hear it again: a faint mumbling coming from a not-so-far-off room to the left. He was amazed he should be able to hear it at all.
Maybe this is my other special ability, he thought with excitement, super-hearing! True or not, he just had to go and investigate where that sound was coming from.
He ran down the hall until he came to a flight of stairs descending downward. There he stopped to listen again, hopes rising with each breath.
There it was again--a female voice, strangely familiar. He couldn't quite make out the words; whoever it was, they were talking in a very low voice.
Tingling with excitement, he descended the stairs and opened the door to the mystery room.
A pretty face looked up to greet him.
Steve recognized her immediately. He couldn't believe it!
"Claire!" He squealed with delight, "It's you!"
"Steve?!" The frown Claire had been wearing when Steve had first entered evaporated completely when first recognition, and then utter happiness registered. Her smile seemed to light up the whole room. "I thought you were dead!"
"Yeah, well, so did I. So, do you talk to yourself much? I heard your voice, and that's how I knew there was someone down here."
He was at her side in a moment, noting her predicament.
Claire gave him a shy smile. "Yeah, well I wasn't so much talking to myself as just thinking aloud. We have a lot of catching up to do. But first, you have to help me out of here before Wesker gets back."
"Wesker?" Steve cocked an eyebrow, totally lost.
Claire sighed. That's right, I don't think he ever met Wesker. Lucky him. "Never mind. Long story short, he's bad news. And he's trying to use me as bait to lure my brother into a trap. He could be back any second!"
"Well then, I guess I'd better bust ya outta here." Steve replied smugly, and Claire had to smile. Same old arrogant Steve she remembered from Rockfort.
Steve's eyes fell on Claire's metal cuffs, and the chains connecting them to the wall.
Claire instantly knew what he meant to do, and she wasn't so sure she liked the idea.
"Think you could stretch your chains out a bit?" Claire's worries were confirmed at the suggestion. Nevertheless, she didn't see any other way out. Slowly, she complied to his request and stretched the chains out as far as they would go against the wall. Her worry intensified when she saw how far this was--less than a foot. That didn't leave Steve much margin for error.
"Um, Steve, are you sure you can…"
"What's the matter Claire? Don't you trust me?" Steve paused a moment, ax held up in a striking pose.
Claire felt her eyes moistening. No! She couldn't start crying in a time like this! But she just couldn't stop the tears from coming. They flowed down her cheeks like miniature rivers.
Now Steve was upset. "Oh Claire, I didn't mean to…" He began.
"Of course I trust you!" Claire reassured her friend, "It's just that, I never thought I would see you again and…and…"
"So that's a happy cry then?"
"Yes, dummy!" Claire returned, composing herself in a more dignified manner, "Now swing that ax and cut me loose!"
Steve swung the ax in a slow-motion move for the chain, making a mental note of the ax's position in relation to the chain and with just how much force he would need to make it a successful strike.
Okay, I can do this. He thought as he prepared the sharp-bladed ax for the real swing.
Claire was trying to be brave, but he could still read the fear in her eyes. Everything counted on him making the perfect hit.
Steve swung the ax. Sparks flew, and there was there was the clank of metal on metal.
The chain, not Claire's arm, snapped neatly in two.
"Good one!" Claire praised, "Now for the other one." She held her breath as Steve repeated the procedure for her other arm, then on the chains holding her ankles.
Each hit was perfect.
As soon as she was free, Claire embraced Steve in a hug.
He was so startled he dropped the ax.
Their lips met.
Claire could've lost herself forever in that kiss. It was as if all the bad stuff that had been happening in the past twenty-four hours had suddenly just melted away and it was just her and Steve.
It was a nice thought, but it didn't last for long.
Being trapped on a dangerous island overtaken by T-virus and a superhuman psycho and knowing that you and those you cared about could very easily be killed had a way of gripping the mind.
Reluctantly, she pulled away and started for the door. "We have to find Chris before Alan or Wesker do. We can play fill-in-the-blanks on the way."
"Sounds good to me." Steve agreed as he retrieved his fallen ax and followed Claire out of the miserable torture room.
Alexis had never felt so topsy-turvy in her life. Before, everything had been so simple, so meaningful. And though she hadn't quite found her niche in life yet--there would still be plenty of time for that--her almost clear path had just been shrouded in uncertainty.
She'd always thought of her family as being the good guys, but now she wasn't so sure. And if she could no longer be sure about that, what could she be sure of?
I have to know. I have to find the truth. She had been walking right behind Alfred, and was so immersed in her thoughts that when he suddenly put on the brakes she almost rammed right into him.
A zombie staggered out in front of them. One well-aimed shot to the temple from Alfred, and it was down before it could utter it's first guttural moan.
"Pathetic!" Alfred sneered, "I never could stand these inferior creatures. All they are is walking corpses. I can't believe they were part of the product of my father's genius. Wait a minute, yes I can!"
Alexis about had to cover her ears at the sound of her father's maniacal laughing. Oh my god, he sound like a little girl! He sounds gay! And what's so funny, anyway?
"Um, Dad? You might not want to overdo it on the laugh, kay? I'm standing right here."
Alfred cast his daughter a disapproving look before turning his head away, as if to shrug. He lowered his new sniper rifle to his side and continued on in the direction of the nearest elevator.
Alexis was right by his side.
"You know, some of my people once scoffed at my laugh. They told me I sounded like a girl. They even had the audacity of accusing me of being gay behind my back! I simply explained to them…well, actually, I didn't do much explaining to them because I killed them."
Alexis was taken aback. "You what now?"
"I killed them." Alfred repeated, and there was not a shred of remorse in his voice. They reached the elevator, and Alfred pressed the down button. "You know, guillotine and such. Even tortured some of them. They were vermin and deserved to die like vermin."
"You had torture chambers?!" Alexis gasped.
Alfred looked mildly insulted. "What do you mean had? I still have them! I can show you once we get home."
The Ashfords stepped in, and Alexis watched her father punch the B-1 button. She was not liking what she was hearing. Sure. Nobody liked being dissed, but torturing and killing someone just because they had made fun of you seemed a bit extreme.
"You killed people just for making fun of you?"
"Why not? I've killed for far less. Oh, by the way, did I tell you the good news?" Alfred went on, as if the whole torturing and killing topic were nothing more than casual conversation, "Alexia and I have made arrangements, and from now on you and Ash will be living with us. Isn't that grand? We'll finally be together, the world's most genetically superior family!"
Alexis was not happy. In fact, she was starting to feel rather sick.
"What..what happened to Grandfather?" She asked, not really sure she wanted the answer.
For a moment, the hum of the descending elevator was her only reply.
A sour expression overtook Alfred's features. "Alexander? I'd rather not waste my breath on that wanker. He was useless, and he got what was coming to him."
"How could you say that about your own father?" Alexis demanded, hurt.
Alfred didn't even look at her. "Because it's true! Umbrella didn't start to fall until he became family master. He was responsible for the decline of our family's name. So your mother decided to put him to some use and test her experimental virus on him. I helped, of course, but the experiment didn't go quite as we had hoped and we had to lock him in the basement. There he stayed for fifteen years. I'm not sure what's become of him now--I assume he died when our Antarctic facility was destroyed. Believe me, it would be an improvement."
There was a loud 'ding' and the elevator doors slid open.
Alexis was halfway out into a metallic room with few furnishings when her father suddenly put a hand on her shoulder.
Startled, Alexis spun around, prepared to run or even fight if need be.
She relaxed a bit when she realized it was just her dad.
Their eyes met.
Alfred seemed a bit disturbed about something.
"You...you feel remorse? For someone you've never met?" He gushed, as if the concept were new to him.
Alexis nodded sadly.
"I..I'm just thinking how terrible it must be for the people you trust and care about the most to suddenly turn on you. I mean, I know how horrible I would feel if Mr. Rosken or Mrs. Phelps suddenly decided to do something like that to me."
"If they did, you could rest assured that Alexia and I would have their heads for it!" Alfred declared, totally missing the point.
"No! That's not what I mean!" Alexis argued, "I mean I'd feel betrayed."
Alfred shrugged. "I suppose you would."
"And, you're okay with that? You think it's all right to betray people who love you and trust you?"
"Hey!" Alfred shot, "I never said your grandfather loved or trusted me!"
"Yeah, but you never said he didn't." Alexis pointed out, "I've heard about him, and he didn't seem like such a horrible man. I don't think he deserved what you and Mom did to him."
"You don't know the circumstances!" Alfred snarled, "You weren't even there! And you have much to learn about the world, daughter. Nice guys get nowhere. Compassion, mercy, loyalty…you're better off without all that sentimental slip-slop. Never did me any good!"
"Did you even try?" Alexis pried, "I mean, you're loyal to my mother, aren't you? You love her, right?"
For once, Alfred didn't know what to say. He opened his mouth as if to answer, then closed it just as quickly, biting his lip. He was caught totally off guard.
"Well…yes, but that's different." He said at last.
Alexis was not convinced. "Really? How? How do you determine who deserves your love and who doesn't?"
Alfred was getting very annoyed very quickly. "Look, we don't have time for a morality lesson, okay? We have a job to do, and not much time to do it in. And you shouldn't feel bad about hurting or killing people. That's what life's all about--pain. You're either on the giving or receiving end, and quite frankly I've found it' s better to inflict hurt than to be hurt. It can even be fun, in fact. Once we get back home, I'll show you what I mean."
Having said that, he turned and headed to a door with a huge painting on it.
Alexis just watched, mentally conceding.
It's no use, you can't reason with the unreasonable. She figured, I'm never going to be able to change him. Not yet, anyway. But I have to stop my family from blowing this island to smithereens before I'm sure Steve made it off okay. I owe him that much.
Her mind swimming, Alexis tried to pull together some type of a plan. She had to have her family's trust, at least for now. It would probably be best to just pretend to go along with whatever they said. That would be the smart way to play it, and she might even learn some valuable information along the way.
No sooner had she decided than her father's sudden angry outbursts interrupted the silence.
"Great! Just great! Sodding door wont open without the sodding crest! Oh well. I'm sure Alexia won't let a little thing like a locked door stand in her way. She could probably just break it down or something."
"You found the room with the triggering system?" Alexis asked.
"According to the map I did." Alfred frowned. "With all the doors they had unlocked, you'd think these simpletons would've left this one unlocked, too. But no. That would make far too much sense. They had to run off with the freak'in crest! No matter, Alexia will figure it out. We'd best be getting back to the meeting room and wait for her and Ash."
"Good idea." Alexis agreed with one final glance at the door to note the shape of the missing crest. She was already accepting the fact that everything she thought she knew about her parents was wrong. She'd been brought up in a world of lies, and now it was time for her to separate fact from fiction.
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